Sunday, June 10, 2012

Recent Prisoner Free Exercise Cases

In Nance v. Miser, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 75307 (D AZ, May 30, 2012), an Arizona federal district court permitted a Muslim inmate to proceed against the prison's deputy director and its chaplain on his free exercise and equal protection challenges to the refusal to provide him with a Halal diet.

In Patterson v. Ryan, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 75289 (D AZ, May 30, 2012), an Arizona federal district court, in a suit by a Messianic Jew, rejected plaintiff's complaint that his request for kosher meals was fulfilled by serving him vegetarian meals for breakfast and lunch, and kosher meals for dinner. Only Orthodox Jews received 3 kosher meals. Plaintiff failed to show any burden on his religious practice.

In Muhammad v. Martel, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 76445 (ND CA, June 1, 2012), a California federal district court denied an inmate's habeas corpus petition, holding in part that derogatory references to petitioner's religion by the victim at his trial for stalking, and in the pre-sentence report, did not violate his free exercise rights.

In Erickson v. Lopez, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 76548 (WD WA, June 1, 2012), a Washington federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendations (2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 76552, April 27, 2012) and dismissed a Muslim inmate's free exercise claim growing out of the prison's assignment of him to a cell with a Wiccan inmate who assaulted him after authorities refused to transfer him to a different cell. The court held that placing inmates of different religions together does not necessarily substantially burden either's free exercise.

In Foster v. Bhambi, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77188 (ED CA, June 4, 2012), a California federal magistrate judge rejected a state prisoner's claim that his free exercise rights were violated when prison officials allowed coronary bypass surgery, which he had previously refused, to be performed on him.

In Glenn v. New Hampshire State Prison Family Connections Center, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 78689 (D NH, June 4, 2012), a New Hampshire federal magistrate judge permitted a Muslim inmate to proceed with free exercise, RLUIPA, establishment clause and equal protection challenges. He complained that there had been no Muslim Jum'ah services for three years. Authorities said there were no approved volunteers to conduct them; but there were state-paid Christian chaplains.  Plaintiff also complained that he had no Qur'an or other Muslim literature, that the prison had not accommodated his need for a Muslim diet, shaving practices, or prayer requirements and had not provided him with food for a Ramadan feast.

In Jordan v. Fuller, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 78338 (D CO, June 5, 2012), a Colorado federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendation (2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 78378, Jan. 17, 2012) and dismissed the claim of an inmate who does not practice any particular religion that his free exercise, equal protection, 8th Amendment and due process rights were infringed when he was not permitted a vegetarian diet.

In Johnson v. Carroll, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 79380 (ED CA, June 6, 2012), a California federal magistrate judge refused to dismiss a Muslim inmate's free exercise and equal protection claims growing out of the confiscation of his religious diet card when he was transferred to a different prison.